Do you want to have a different experience for Easter? Then you must come to Málaga. It’s fair to say that Spaniards take the Easter week very seriously and celebrate it differently than many other countries in Europe, where Easter is celebrated by simply dyeing eggs. The Holy Week consists of processions with brotherhood (cofradia) carrying large floats, or pasos, that are adorned with religious sculptures depicting Jesus or Mary from their church to the city’s cathedral.
The Holy Week celebrations in Málaga are among the most famous in Spain and as a result are televised nationally; because of that the preparations begin months before. Semana Santa in Málaga arrives early this year – 25 March to 1 April.
All the processions (about 40 of them) start and finish in their own churches or chapels, but they all share a common route along the Alameda Principal, Calle Larios and the start of Calle Granada. Many also go past the Cathedral.
If you are ready to experience Easter in Málaga here are a few interesting facts you may want to know:
Antonio Banderas visits Malaga
Did you know that famous actor Antonio Banderas is from Málaga? With Easter being of such great importance, many celebrities whose hometown is Málaga arrive to take part in the celebrations and Antonio Banderas is no exception. Every year he makes an enormous effort to join his brotherhood and lead the Virgin de las Lágrimas y Favores (Virgen of Tears and Favours) procession. He says that despite living abroad he follows current events in Spain.
Interesting fact: the hymn of Lagrimas y Favores is written by Antonio himself.
Military procession with a goat
The procession of the Spanish Legion is one of the most popular and emotive processions during the Holy Week celebrations. The legion accompanies their Cristo de la Buena Muerte, Christ of the Good Death, the Patron Saint and protector of the legionnaires in a horizontal position whilst singing “el novio de la muerte”, the boyfriend of death.
Each year they cross the Mediterranean from their Ceuta base with military music and marches joined with their mascot, a young goat, which the crowd loves to watch providing a unique flavour to the event.
A prisoner freed every year during the Holy Week
In 1759, a riot broke out in a Málaga prison after inmates found out Easter processions would be cancelled due to a plague outbreak. In hopes of being saved from the plague they forced their way out, carried Jesus’ image through the streets and then miraculously returned to their cells. King Charles III was so impressed that from that day on he decided to free a prisoner not convicted of violent crime or corruption in Málaga every Easter. The tradition lives on to this day.
The lights are turned off
The peak of activity is on Good Friday. At night the stores turn off their lights and the street lights are also turned off in the procession routes. The only lights are from the candles on the thrones and the candles carried by the penitents. This makes the processions much more dramatic. The streets are crowded with hundreds of thousands of spectators, and the emotion of the moment makes many cry. This is really an awesome experience.
Ku Klux Klan!?
Yes, that is what sinners dressed in capirote (the conical headdress with eye holes) are often mistaken for, but actually there is no real connection between these two whatsoever. The Nazareno tradition of Roman Catholic was created for people to be able to atone their sins while staying anonymous which is possibly the reason why KKK chose it as well as for the visual effect.
Even if you are not religious, Easter, also known as Semana Santa, is something I would suggest seeing just to experience a bit of Spanish culture and history, because these events have been around for years and except for some slight changes they have stayed just as traditional as they were years ago.